The Arm air scouts zipped through a narrow rocky crag, missing each
other by inches.

Screaming across the acrid, dirt mining world, the air scouts banked
left and right, trying to not get splattered on the rocky outcroppings.

John McDougal keyed his comm.

"Okay, boys. Sound off. Alpha Leader here."
"Alpha 2, roger."
"Alpha 3, roger."
"Alpha 4, ready to rock!"
"Alpha 5, systems are go."

McDougal made sure each of his wing mates had checked in before giving
out mission orders.

"Alright. Now, there's a few strange happenings over at sector
Beta-Nine, so we're expected to check it out. Keep engines running hot,
and Command tells us to be prepared for any trouble. We're not
supplied with EMP defenses, so we're sitting ducks to any missiles. If
there's any trouble, find the source and get the hell out of there!"

McDougal pulled his craft up into the sky, and his wing mates followed.
Six Arm fighters shot up from the ground, smoke trails light and
disappating quickly.

They hovered at five hundred meters, changed course, and went into a
quick scanner formation. Far below, Arm troops made frequent patrols
and unearthed hidden pockets of the landing craft that Core craft had
discharged last month. There were a few flashes of light below them,
as Arm forces battled Core machines.

All over the Galaxy, it was like this. Each side held about the same
number of worlds, except the Core was situated at the center of the
Galaxy, while the Arm ringed it. Because of the huge effort to get
messages from one Arm front to the other, several High Commands were
put in place around the Galactic rim. Unfortuantely, more than one of
these High Commands had given themselves up to the Core enemy. The Core
had the advantage, albeit a small one. The war had gone on for a long
time, and McDougal couldn't remember when the war was actually started.
It was a couple of millennia ago. That was all he cared about.

The Arm patrols thinned as the scouts flew farther and farther away
from the Arm sphere of influence. There were a couple mining bases here
and there, and one huge solar field, but otherwise it was mostly
molten lava flowing into the surface. Many Peewees had melted from
straying to close to the Beta sector clusters.

Beta-One flashed below them, Two, then Three. Suddenly, McDougal went
into a sharp dive which his wing emulated. They hurtled towards the
ground, and at the last second, leveled off.

They flashed over fields of molten lava, the red hot liquid spewing up
behind them in great waves. Acrid, brown-red ground rushed by beneath
them as Arm patrol of a few Raiders rushed from cover to cover, hoping
there were no Core in the area.

Beta-Nine was a very important strategic location; if Alpha-One wasn't
the most important spot on the whole planet, the Command Base would be
located in Beta-Nine.

A high cliff wall, with only one entrance that ground troops could
access, surrounded Beta-Nine. The entrance was a hundred meters long
and very narrow. McDougal and his wing had to time their entrance into
the crevice carefully, or be splattered on the sharp rocks on either
side.

"Alpha Leader, this is Alpha-Four. I'm picking up strange nanobot
activity near the entrance and inside Beta-Nine."

McDougal glanced down at his screen, and looked up just in time to see
the Dragon's Teeth.

"Pull back! Pull back!" he shouted, his hover engines kicking in full
and slowing his speed. His wing slowed, and began to spin around, ready
for an escape.

The Crashers and Pulverizers opened fire. Missiles crisscrossed each
other in the thick of McDougal's wing. Alpha-Three and Alpha-Four
crashed into each other, seeking an escape. Their mangled planes were
hit by a missile, causing the two planes to both explode.

The missiles quickly and easily finished off McDougal and his wing.

A lone Peewee scout, identifying the explosions as the Arm scouts being
destroyed by infantry carried Core missiles and base defense Core
missiles, gave a coded transmission to Alpha-One Main Base.

--BEGIN TRANSMISSION STOP SCOUT WING ALPHA DESTROYED BY CORE MISSLES
STOP MISSILES ARE BOTH INFANTRY AND BASE DEFENSE STOP REQUEST IMMEDIATE
HR7 TASKFORCE TO DEAL WITH CORE THREAT STOP REPEAT STOP LARGE AMOUNTS
OF CORE FORCES AT BETA-NINE STOP END TRANSMISSION--

The Peewees went first, marching in neat rows with dozens of rocket
launcher Kbots behind them. Airplanes by the dozens flew past overhead,
weapons running hot. Missiles and laser cannons fired, but at the
distance they were at, none hit.

The first Peewee intrusion squad ran in first, their arms up and EMP
blasts flowing out. Nanobots fried and popped, and fused metal began to
burn and run, causing small rivers of plastisteel down the towers of
Core base defenses and small puddles of steaming liquid.

Then the defenses kicked in. Five of the dozen Peewees were melted
through by brilliant green beams. The Gaat guns clicked their laser
cannons out of position and a new one clicked into position as the
Peewees dropped to their knees, metal bursting out of the melted holes.
Their reactors overloaded and in a few seconds five brilliantly bright
explosions tore apart the Peewees. Metal smashed into the stone walls
and the other Peewees.

The missiles were seconds later. Dozens of craters suddenly appeared,
and the Peewee squad disappeared in flying rock and dirt and huge
columns of red flames. When the smoke and dust cleared, there was
nothing left of a dozen Arm warriors.

The airplanes began to reach the edge of the cliff wall, and the bombs
clicked into position, arming themselves.

Suddenly, the bombers saw two long ranks of Crashers, with missile
launchers wide open. They had been sitting ducks.

Immediately, there were hundreds of thumping noises, and hundreds of
contrails began to streak away from the Crashers.

The bombers reached for their emergency eject buttons, but as they
broke the small thin glass plates and pulled the levers, an error
began to read on their screens.

--UNABLE TO PROCESS REQUEST. SYSTEM NOT FOUN

The missiles hit the first of the bombers, causing the armed bombs to
go off. Every Arm soldier in the taskforce raised their arms to their
eyes to block off the dozens of blindingly bright lights that exploded
in the sky in rapid succession.

The heavy Arm tanks suddenly began to go up in flames. The Arm began to
notice the ground churning as dozens anti-matter crawling bombs began
to clamber all over them. To make matters even worse, Core bombers were
swooping to make passes on the column. Desperate transmissions to Arm
command requested assistance as the bombers were detached in a trio of
first wave bombers. The whole column went up in flames.

The remnenants of the Arm began to flee. Tank treads tore off as the
bombs remained underground as effective land mines. Kbots covered their
retreat, trying to stave off the horrible attacks. Dozens of Arm
soldiers died in minutes.

The battle was over. Arm units fled in horror, leaving the wounded or
disabled to die. Peewees crawled on the guns when their legs were blown
off, and tank operaters cowered in their armored vehicles, hoping the
Core would overlook an expensive and highly dangerous weapon quite near
valuable equipment.


IS THIS WHAT YOU REQUIRE?
"Yes. I need to be transferred to one of your metal bodies now!"
WE CANNOT IF YOUR WEAPONS ARE A THREAT TO OUR FORCES.
"Do not worry. They will be taken care of."
YOU ARE STATING THAT THE SOLDIERS AND WEAPONS UNDER YOUR COMMAND WILL
NOT BE A THREAT TO OUR EQUIPMENT?
"Yes. Now, can I plan on when you will attack?"
NO. YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR TROOPS NOW, OR YOU WILL DIE. YOU WANTED TO BE
TRANSFERRED, AND WE SHALL DO IT FOR YOU. HOWEVER, IF WE SUFFER TOO MUCH
DAMAGE TO OPERATE AT 100% EFFICIENCY IN ONE SOLAR DAY, YOU WILL JOIN
YOUR TROOPS IN FUELING OUR BIO REACTORS. IS THAT UNDERSTOOD, ARM HIGH
COMMANDER JACOB ZERAKI?
"It is understood. You will defeat the Arm stationed here quite easily
without losing more than an A.K.'s leg and a little armor off of a
Weasel," Zeraki said, glancing around him to make sure no one else was
around in the Arm Command Bunker in Alpha-One.
THAT IS SATISFACTORY. CORE CONSCIOUSNESS ENDING TRANSMISSION IN FIVE
FOUR THREE TWO END.